Kingdom: The Far Reaches
One can’t help playing Kingdom: The Far Reaches and not be reminded of Dragonâ€™s Lair, the Laserdisc coin-op game that was a hit in the 1980s. When Dragonâ€™s Lair first came out, it had great presentation, but lackluster gameplay; it was like watching a cartoon, with reaction time as the only critical element. Youâ€™d walk into a room, a monster of some sort would appear, and youâ€™d have mere milliseconds to react before something killed you – usually youâ€™d die a few times before you figured out by process of elimination what you were supposed to do.
Still, the graphics — actual cartoons created by Disney veteran Don Bluth — were beautiful, the sound was amazing, and even though Dragonâ€™s Lair wasnâ€™t much of a game, it was a blast to watch. Kingdom: The Far Reaches can be described in almost exactly the same way.
Kingdom has a good musical score, above-average graphics, and excellent voice work. The problem lies in the gameplay itself, and in several nagging little details that make the game more irritating than fun. Like Dragonâ€™s Lair, Kingdomâ€™s fantasy world is limited to a very linear path where one wrong step ends in death. A prime example of this: As you walk along the path to a castle, a group of tiger statues spring to life and kill you. Thatâ€™s it. No fight, no flight — just a quick, inexplicable death.
Thatâ€™s not an isolated event, either; this sort of thing happens again and again in Kingdom. You have no warning that certain death awaits if you take a wrong turn. Thereâ€™s no intelligence involved, no way to avoid death through cunning — only endless trial-and-error. Some other, minor things conspire to make the game more a chore than a pleasure. The voice-overs are generally of a higher quality than those in most games, but at times very important messages were unclear.
And character interaction is inconsistent at best. Some encounters reflected things that I had done elsewhere, and some of them didnâ€™t. It seemed no matter how many times I walked into the wise woodsmanâ€™s clearing, he introduced himself and told me the same tale. In the end, this adventure just seemed flat and lifeless. If you never got enough of Dragonâ€™s Lair, and if you donâ€™t mind learning the hard way, you might like it.
System Requirements: 80486/33 MHz, 8 MB RAM, Win95